Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ten words that describe my infertility experience

Reading articles and blogs of other people going through infertility is comforting to me and makes me feel less alone. While I do have a amazing support network of family and friends, only a select few can truly understand and relate. One of my goals of this blog is to share my experience with you all so that even those of you who can't directly relate can try to put yourself in my shoes and others who are struggling with infertility. Infertility in your twenties is also something that I can't find a ton of information about because it just isn't as common. Just because we are young and have time doesn't make this journey easier. I'm supposed to be right in my peak fertility right now so it leaves you feeling a little lost and confused. Anyway here are ten words that describe my experience so far.

1. Lonely- Since starting this blog, I have felt less alone but in the beginning when I kept my struggle a secret, I really began to feel alone and like everyone around me was getting pregnant and that no one could relate to me. Sometimes it even feels like your own husband can't really relate to the heartbreak that you feel the moment you find out this round wasn't successful since it's directly impacting your body.

2. Hope- This is one of the biggest ones. You hope for weeks that your body will cooperate and respond to the medicines. You hope that every pill you swallow will even out those hormones and the issues caused by PCOS. Then you hope that your monthly plan goes according to the paper the doctor gave you. Next, you wait and hope that just maybe this time will be it. After each cycle of a fertility treatment or a change in the plan, you just think this has got to be the time it works. 

3. Fear- I fear the unknown of where things will be a few weeks from now. With PCOS, I fear having a miscarriage since I am at increase risk. I fear IVF and the next potential painful steps of this process. I fear the uncertainty of a new medicine and the potential reactions I could have such as multiples. Lastly, I fear being unable to have a successful pregnancy since I've never gotten pregnant.

4. Frustration- From every pill you take, to every doctors appointment you go to, from every pregnant women you see, you just wonder when it will be your turn and how much longer you will have to wait.

5. Waiting- You feel like your life is on hold while waiting for the child that you have never met. This journey is all about waiting and trying to be patient. Waiting to respond to medicine, waiting to try again, and waiting for the final result. 

6. Nervous- This feeling mostly comes about when waiting for phone calls from the doctor or while waiting for the doctor to come into your appointment. Nervous to hear news that you aren't wanting to hear. It's nerve racking waiting for a call that tells you, yes you are pregnant or no you are not.

7. Confused- Why did this happen to me? I'm so young that it just doesn't feel like something you would be experiencing now this early on in your marriage. You never think during those wedding vows "through sickness and health" that it could potentially be applicable so soon.

8. Sad- Even on great days, there sometimes is still a part of you that feels sad. It feels like a little piece of you that you haven't met yet is missing. And sadness from all the hormones, treatments, and ups and downs that come along with this process.

9. Awkward- Many parts of the treatment process just feel awkward. Testing, stirrups, speculums, catheters, collection rooms, and needles to name a few. There is just something awkward about being at a fertility clinic even with a sweet and friendly staff. It just feels like a place you shouldn't be and an experience you never thought you would be living.

10. Disappointment- That day when you are a few days late and start thinking that the at home pregnancy tests are lying to you. You gain that hope and excitement only to receive confirmation that your optimism was wrong. It almost feels like it does when you get heartbroken after a long relationship. Each time it happens, it doesn't seem to get easier and you almost don't want to accept it.

All of those feelings are what keep me pushing through. I know I can and will get  past this but it definitely isn't easy and these are some of the feelings those of us going through treatments experience. I can't wait to make a list of ten feelings I have once I hold my own baby. I already know that list will have some awesome words on it. One day all this heartache and pain will be so worth it when I get to write that list! Let's keep hoping it's soon.  :) And since I like ending on positive notes, the last word is excitement. Despite all of this, I am so excited for the day this journey ends, and when we start our family!

This post was inspired by a blog called With Great Expectation written by a girl in her twenties that has PCOS like me. 


Support group

Since I switched to the specialist almost two months ago, I kept telling myself I was going to try out the support group. For the past few weeks my treatment and everything was so up in the air that I didn't want to go because I felt like I didn't know what was going on. I was also thinking I'm going to be the only one in their twenties because most people in the waiting room you can tell are older. Anyway, I had a tough day and week really so I decided I should go. The support group is included and is every Wednesday night. I figured I should do everything to try and help myself in any way possible. As you all can tell from this blog, I am 110% invested in having a baby, and I am trying everything in my control to help myself. I won't give up, and we will figure this out! I won't let PCOS get the best of me although I will admit it's getting to me a lot lately!

It was a small group lead by a therapist with just me, one other couple, and one other lady. While all our situations were very different, it was still nice to ask questions and talk about everything. We all had in common this same infertility struggle. Lately I've been feeling really emotional, and I think it's since we added the IUI on this month. Being more aggressive and investing even more money into this really felt like a big step and with that bigger step I feel like comes more anxiety and fear. That step also brought be closer to needing IVF which scares me too. The one lady at support group was starting IVF, and they went to injection training today. The thought of IVF potentially being so close is crazy to me but the therapist reminded me that we still aren't there yet and that in this journey you really have to focus on the now which is so true. 

I really can't think more than a few days ahead. My schedule seems to be dictated by my doctors appointments and treatment schedule. It's even hard to commit to sub jobs a few weeks away because my plans are decided upon my bodies schedule. For example, I was invited to a bachelorette party that is out of town but sometimes my treatments fall on a weekend (like this past weekend). I don't know what will happen two weeks from now let alone six weeks from now which makes me feel like I need to stay in Atlanta close to my doctors. It might seem silly to cancel plans but when you're this far into treatment it's hard to just stop when you have an end goal.

Today would have been my first day back at work, and I think it's all really hitting me. I was actually out at school the past two days helping old coworkers and now friends setting up their rooms. I can't seem to stay away. I still want to have an impact and help those teachers and students. Yesterday one of my friends at school said something really sweet to me. She said something along the lines of how she really respected my decision to stay home because it was very likely that I would have been out a lot this year. To me that wasn't going to be fair to my students or my coworkers. I really appreciated her supporting my decision. I've never been one to want to ask for time off and for favors. I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to focus on this journey and hopefully keep my stress levels lower but it definitely has made me sad seeing a new teacher in my classroom. It still feels like my room, and I still feel like a teacher (because inside I am). Once a teacher always a teacher in my book! I know teaching isn't going anywhere, and it will still be there when the time is right again.

Today really begins another new chapter in my life as summer comes to a close for all the Atlanta area teachers. I have such mixed emotions about it all but in my heart I know I made the right decision. I could see myself at work getting a phone call and just crying at my desk at lunch when I got news from the doctor that I didn't want to hear. Fortunately I'll be able to handle all this more privately and have a flexible schedule that allows me to deal with everything my body is going through physically and emotionally. Speaking of physically, the dentist told me the other day that he could tell from my gums that I was on hormone treatments. Apparently this is even changing my mouth. Who knew? My body definitely has gone through a lot over the past few months. 

At support group last night when I asked if there were any better ways to cope with infertility, she said unfortunately not really except for pampering and taking care of yourself. She really reminded me that it's okay to take care of yourself during this time. Many times in life I've always put others first whether it was my husband, my family, my students, or my friends but now is the time that I need to take care of myself. I've never been a self centered person and instead someone who gives so much to others whether through volunteering, mentoring, etc. Through this past year I have learned a lot, and one of those things is that I need to be less hard on myself and take care of myself more. Sometimes in life you do need to put yourself first and rely on others a little more, and I'm realizing that it is okay to do that sometimes. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

First IUI

Today we took another big step. The emotions going through me right now are honestly too overwhelming to even put into words so I'm going to keep this post simple and short. I'm feeling such a range emotions from hope and excitement to being very nervous and worried it won't work. To this point I've been super honest and open about everything but I think today it got to a whole new level and a very personal experience for my husband and me. I might go back and talk more about it later if I can figure out away to get it out into words just not right now.

I will say that everything went really well with the procedure and as smoothly as things could have gone. We can't help but hope that this does the trick but we also are aware the success rate still isn't that high. It's suggested to try IUI three times before you give up on it, and this was only the first time for us. Of course we hope this helps correct the problem but we are trying to keep realistic expectations. As I lay in the doctors office and stared at the ceiling, I tried to think positive thoughts and remind myself that this situation is temporary and that it all will come to an end eventually. The uncertainty and waiting is difficult but I'm beyond thankful for a chance. Chances have been few and far between for us so I have to be grateful and focus on the fact that we are getting help. This certainly isn't the route I ever pictured but one thing I've heard is that you forget all this pain and upset the moment you hold your baby. I can already sense that joy. Please keep us in your thoughts these next few weeks! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Trigger shot

This just happened this morning. Yup my doctors office is open on a Sunday. I broke my record of no weekend appointments. This marks my third appointment in under a week, and I've got another one tomorrow. Spent 4 out of 7 days there this week. Today was the trigger shot. It's actually pretty exciting to me because something is helping me and for that I am so thankful!
I spent Friday calling around to different pharmacies to find the best price. Since this is a treatment, our insurance doesn't cover it so finding the best price was necessary. I called all over Atlanta and was shocked to find how drastically different the prices were. The first place I called said $125. The next place said $275. Really? No thanks. Then the next place said I could get the brand name for $91. I am sold! We waited to fill it until Saturday because they said if I got a positive ovulation test that we could pass on the shot. Come on little body just work on your own and save me a little money! I bet you can guess what happened. So off we went to a pharmacy 30 minutes away to find the best price. Hey I'm all about saving money where I can!

We were given the choice to administer the shot ourselves or have them do it this morning (Sunday). What would you do? We thought about doing it ourselves but for the first time felt more comfortable being taught how. We wanted to do it right and didn't want to risk us doing something wrong and then feeling like that was the reason we might not have gotten pregnant. The decision was made. The nurse would do it. Jeremy was sweet and came with me at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. Such a sweetheart to get up early on his day off to be with me and learn something I'm sure he never imagined he would be learning. Anyway, it was pretty straight forward, and we could have probably done it just fine but at least we know it was done by them this time. 

Tomorrow's the big day for me.
My first IUI. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that this could potentially be the way we got pregnant but hey it's worth a chance and a slightly increased percentage. I don't really love the idea of a lab and doctors being involved with us getting pregnant but I'm trusting the doctors that they are doing what is best for us. I've accepted the fact that PCOS has not made it easy for us but that I have to be open to ways to help even if I don't really like the process. I also want to try all options before moving to IVF, and this is basically our last few attempts. Some of you might think I'm crazy for how open I am and for all that I'm sharing however it feels good to expose others to what this journey can be like. It's a hidden secret many people never hear about and never realize exists until they experience it themselves or have someone close to them go through it. I hope you're learning something and find it interesting hearing about the amazing things modern medicine is capable of. I will explain what goes on tomorrow after it happens. I'm nervous and excited at the same time! Fingers crossed!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Excellent news!

Friday was here! Today was the day I would find out if this new medicine round two with the increased dose worked. I had hoped it would be my magic solution, and the correction to all the previous months. I had heard wonderful things about it, and I knew I responded well to Clomid so sure enough I would respond to this. I was surprised last week when it wasn't working. Fortunately we were able to increase it without much of a delay. To recap, on Monday I went in and there was some growth but not quite enough. I either still needed more time, or it just wasn't going to work. I went home on Monday feeling hopeful that slight growth and response was certainly better than none at all.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday went by, and I couldn't help but think to myself and wish my body would just keep working and do what it's supposed to do! I ate healthy, walked the dogs, and went to yoga to relax. We even went to the BB&T Atlanta Tennis Open on Thursday with my Mom and had a nice little mid week outing. The rain even cleared up so we could go to the tennis. Keeping busy is ideal and distracts me from the waiting. 

I decided to take an ovulation test on Thursday. I got the empty circle instead of the happy face. Bummer. That empty circle just annoys me! I mean who wouldn't prefer seeing a happy face over a blank round circle.  That empty circle is just mean. Why not just make it a sad face because that's how it makes me feel. Anyway, I was hoping it was just still too early which it probably was. I woke up at 5:15am today and tried again. That happy face has got to show up today right? Nope not so much. Going into my appointment this morning, I was honestly preparing for them to say that it hadn't worked again. I find I deal with the disappointment better when I expect it as opposed to getting my hopes up only to be let down.

To my surprise, she found a follicle that was 20mm and a few that were 18mm. There was growth since Monday! I asked her to show me the difference between the cysts and the follicles so she did. They look SO similar that I could see how she got them mixed up last week. Well the best, biggest one is hiding right behind the cyst but the doctor found it. To give you a visual of what a follicle  (fluid filled sac) looks like, here is one. It's not mine but just one from google images. This is what I see on my ultrasounds and what they measure.
Anyway, there are a few there but the 20mm she calls the "front runner" however there are a few close behind. It's almost like a race is going on inside my body! So neat but crazy to think about all at the same time. This once innocent quest to have a baby naturally sure has turned into one big scientific experiment. I never dreamed I would be going through this but I am, and I'm trying to make the best of it while also educating, inspiring, and encouraging others to get through this struggle.

Now comes the next step that surprised me a little. Originally the plan was to try on our own with just oral meds for two more months. Since I didn't have the greatest response to the medicine, my doctor changed her game plan. The way she explained it to me was that basically we don't want to miss this opportunity and make the most of this round so she suggested adding the IUI. For those of you unfamiliar, IUI stands for inter uterine insemination. 

Adding an IUI means you need precise timing which includes a trigger shot to induce ovulation now that the follicles are mature. I've never done a trigger shot before so this will be the first time. Time for another first in our books. As of now, the plan is for me to get the shot on Sunday and then I have the IUI on Monday unless I get a positive test tomorrow. I will explain that whole IUI procedure in another post afterwards. 

The one other crazy thing about this trigger shot is that it will produce a positive pregnancy test. If I took one after the shot, it would say I was. Man that's a mean trick! Basically it is pointless to test early because the shot would cause it to be positive even if I wasn't. It's so tempting to want to see that test say pregnant but the will power to test early really will have to hold off this time since it could very well be a false positive. That is the not so fun fact about the trigger shot! I asked if there was a chance the shot wouldn't work, and she said, "Don't be in that 1% that it doesn't work for!" I like that percentage.

As the doctor was leaving she also said, "You're okay with twins right?" I mean I always knew it was a possibility but hearing her ask made it all seem more real. Of course I said yes. Two babies instead of zero is preferable in my books but I would be lying if I said it didn't scare me. The thought of having one baby is a life changer let alone two babies at the same time. Deep breaths here. I know we will be able to handle whatever is given to us, and this journey is definitely some good extra preparation. 

This afternoon, I talked to Jeremy, and we decided we would try the trigger shot and IUI. We feel excited to at least have an opportunity to try something new. While the IUI really only slightly increases your chances, why not. As my doctor said, sometimes that extra 5-10% is the difference between a baby and no baby. I'm just thrilled to have a chance again since they have been few and far between for me. I'm trying not to get my hopes up because it's still very possible it won't work but at least I know we are trying the next more aggressive approach. The next waiting period starts now.

Advice from another infertility blog

My friend referred me to a blog written by a woman facing infertility. I find reading other people's blogs comforting and it is interesting to me hearing what other women have gone through and how they cope. Hearing success stories after challenges is also inspiring to me.

Many people are unsure what to say to someone struggling with infertility so they either say nothing or they say something that can be very hurtful without even knowing it. Here is an excerpt from her blog. I found her points interesting and pretty true.


Top 6 things to say to a woman struggling to conceive
Many keep infertilty a secret but bringing  awareness to the topic is key to changing the way people feel about it and react to it. Simply acknowledging those going through it will help. Here are some things you can say:  

1. I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you. 

2. I am sorry you are going through this. 

3. I don’t know what to say, but I am here for you. 

4. Do you want to talk about it? 

5. I will support whatever decisions you make. 

6. What can I do to help? 

Studies have shown that infertility is as stressful as battling cancer or being diagnosed with a disease such as diabetes or HIV.  Offer the same support you would to someone who had lost a loved one or was dealing with a difficult illness or disease.  

Be respectful and try to understand their grief. Infertility is extremely difficult emotionally, physically, and financially.  Relationships suffer and some fail due to the stress, and repeated disappointments.  Acknowledging their pain and not minimizing it, goes a long way.
Top 5 things NOT to say to a woman trying to conceive

1. “Just Relax.” 
It minimizes a diagnosable medical problem. These type of comments add to their stress.  Would you tell someone with cancer to just relax?  Probably not.

2. “Enjoy being able to travel, sleep late, have free time, etc.”  
Being able sleep late does not provide comfort to someone who has always dreamed of being a parent.

3. “Why don’t you just adopt?” 
Many people dream of having a child that is biologically related to them, to experience pregnancy, and birth. Many infertiles become parents by adoption, but adoption is not easy or  inexpensive. It is it’s own difficult journey.

4. You should try THIS!” 
Infertility is a complicated problem to diagnose and you might not know all the facts. Don’t try to play doctor and try to give advice.  Anyone dealing with infertility has seriously considered or tried all the options if they can afford it.  In-Vitro Fertilization is very costly at a cost of at least $12,000 a try. Alternative health practices may work for you and you can mention it, but don’t push it.  You have no idea how much they have researched and tried to figure out what will work for their situation. It is disrespectful to push your treatment plan.

5. "Being pregnant isn’t fun” 
If you are pregnant, do not complain about your pregnancy to someone struggling to have a baby.  Leave these complaints for others that have children. It is painful enough to be infertile and be surrounded by women that easily get pregnant, to watch their bellies grow. Your infertile friend would give and do ANYTHING to feel your discomfort, weight gain, etc. 

This advice comes from a blog called sawdust and embryos. Interesting blog about her ivf experience too. http://www.sawdustandembryos.com

Some of these points are definitely things that I notice people say to me. I would say the biggest one I hear is just relax and let it happen. I think that's the hardest one because like this lady said in her blog, relaxing doesn't change the hormone imbalance or make PCOS go away. I distinctly remember thinking May 30th on my last day of work that I would get pregnant this summer. No stress of work, extra sleep, lots of relaxing. Of course that would do the trick. Here we are almost two months later still not pregnant, and I would be going back to work in less than a week. There you have it, summer break from school wasn't the solution. 

I also would have people suggest going on vacation. You'll be relaxed there, and it will happen. Well we went on a two week adventure and romantic getaway together and still no baby. It's really easy to want to suggest things if someone opens up about their pregnancy struggles. If I can give one piece of advice, stick to the list of things that this lady suggests of things to say. They are pretty generic and mean the world to people like me. 

These past two weeks have probably been the most difficult weeks of our journey over the past year. I know what is difficult to us still seems like nothing compared to the women who have experienced miscarriages, still borns, loss of a child, or failed IVF cycles. What we have been through, honestly is nothing compared to what many women/couples face. I know this still could just be the beginning of our journey, and I just want to expose people to what dealing with infertility is like because before this experience, I had no idea. You can try to put yourself in this persons shoes but until you experience it yourself, it's a whole different thing. I wish someone had told me some of these things years ago so I could have better responded to be the people I knew who were struggling. I definitely have a new found respect for people who have perserved and eventually had a baby. I'm sharing these words because I wish someone had shared them with me sooner so I could have helped better.

I want to thank many of my family and friends for the thoughtful texts and phone calls this week. It really brings a smile to my face and means so much when someone remembers that I had an important doctors appointment and when they ask how it went. Seems so simple but seriously brings a smile to my face! I can't thank you all enough! Your constant love and support keeps helping us through this little rough patch in our lives. I will have updates this afternoon from my appointment today once I receive my bloodwork results. More tonight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some good news!

As I mentioned in a previous post, last week I had a biopsy. I've been going toa dermatologist for skin checks for the past three years since my mom was diagnosised with melanoma. I've gone three times, and each year I left with a biopsy. Last year I had a biggest scare and had surgery due to a spot that was almost melanoma. I always have a lot or anxiety going to the dermatologist based on past experiences but this year was so much more important to be healthy due to the potential of pregnancy. If I had something serious, the treatments would have to be put on hold. Luckily that didn't happen!

Today I got the call from an unknown number and had a feeling it was my biopsy results since I'm not currently expecting a call from the specialist. It was mostly good news! Fortunately this spot wasn't anything too serious but it was still mildly abnormal. They said they were glad it was removed but that further treatment isn't required at this time. Hurray! I will just need to monitor the spot and make sure there aren't any strange changes. What awesome news. I'm so glad I don't need surgery, and it's one less thing to deal with. That was definitely the best news that I've gotten in a few weeks. I'm sure I was smiling ear to ear when I got the call while walking around Target. Such a relief and another year that my skin is safe and healthy.

This morning I babysat for my usual family but this time I had an extra boy that was a friend of hers. I had three boys ages 3, 7 months, and 4 months. It definitely gave me a good reminder of what it is like with twins since the two babies were pretty close in age. It all went really well, and all three boys were great but it's a handful for sure having two that young together. I'm certainly getting good practice and learning a lot for when our time does come. 

Tonight I'm trying the roasted beets added to our salad. I hope they turn out well. As an appetizer I made some mozzarella, tomato, and basil snacks with some olive oil and balsamic. Jeremy's brother and his girlfriend brought them over the night with tomatoes from their garden that were delicious. I'm not even a tomatoe fan but mixed with the basil and mozzarella I think it tasted good! Nice easy summer snack or appetizer. 
And the salad with beets! Loved that's added color and flavor!

Off to walk the dogs! Hope everyone is having a great week! Only two more days until we find out if the medicine completely worked! Excited and nervous all that the same time. The appt is at 7:45 so at least I will know first thing Friday morning. So soon!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New recipe and such

Since we got back from our trip, it was a goal of mine to start cooking more interesting meals and find new recipes. I think I had been getting bored with our go to favorite meals, and it was time for a change. This week, I decided to try two new things! Roasting beets to add to a salad and a new recipe for cooking tilapia.

Tonights goal was the tilapia recipe and mashed sweet potatoes. I found this one for almond crusted tilapia. Many times when I cook a meal for the first time I end up a little disappointed that it didn't turn out that well. This time it went pretty well. Here's a picture of the finished product.
The tilapia was almond crusted with breadcrumbs and djion mustard. Jeremy and I are both a big fan of seafood with some sort of delicious sauce or crusted concoction. It sounds like an odd combo but it was good, and the djion helped make the almond mixture stick pretty well. This is the recipe.
Tomorrow I will try the roasted beets! I've never been the best cook but I'm certainly trying to get better! 

Today I also met up with our wedding photographer at a coffee shop down by the Chattahoocie river. I hadn't seen her in probably six months but we try to catch up every now and then. It's always great to see her. I've also spent this week catching up with friends and having phone calls. Without Facebook I've got to find other ways to keep in touch. :) Today, I'll end on this note. A friend of mine from college struggling from infertilty as well sent me this e card. I got a good laugh out of it because it's kinda true for me and for her as well. 



Monday, July 21, 2014

Another doctors appointment

As I mentioned last week, I didn't respond to the lower dose of the new medicine that we tried out this round. They started off with a lower dose to reduce the risk of multiples. Well last week, I didn't respond so I spent the past five days taking the increased dose. Basically what the medicine is intended to do is to mature follicles which will then lead to ovulation. I had a feeling the appointment today was going to be too early to tell much because I just finished the increased dose. Typically you ovulate 5-10 days after the last pill but this cycle is different since there were two rounds of medicine.

Anyway, it seems my body is very slow to respond but something might be happening. On the ultrasound last week, she said the follicles were only 5-6 mm, and today they measured 11-13mm. It seems something might be happening and that I just need more time. That is what I'm hoping because if not, the doctor said we will need to sit down and readdress a plan and start thinking about moving towards IVF. It really scares me to think about the fact that we could be that close to them pushing us towards our last resort. I  also still do have that big cyst from last week but she said it wouldn't cause any problems and should go away on its own.

In the mean time, I'm going to continue to hope that things progess even if it is slowly. I am going back on Friday to check how things go this week. I am trying to stay optimistic yet realistic at the same time. I actually had a conversation with the doctor today about how I love her enthusiasm and her great outlook on things but how it also set me up for more disappointment when things didn't go as planned. We had a good conversation, and I think she felt badly about last weeks miscommunication.  I also spoke with her about what happens next if I come back later this week and things don't go as planned. It helps me to visualize the next step in our plan and where we go from here if things don't go according to plan. Basically the next step for some people is injectable medications that induce ovulation. For me, she said the risk of multiples is so high due to the PCOS that injectables would likely overstimulate me. That would then result in a canceled cycle and loss of money with expensive injections. She said its an option Jeremy and I could think about but that IVF is much more controllable and that is why they recommend moving to IVF for PCOS patients who do not respond to oral medication.

As the doctor worded it herself, Friday is a make it or break it day for me. If I respond, the plan continues as scheduled. If I don't respond, we all need to sit down together and revise our options. I'm going to focus on that fact that there was a slight change and growth from last week. I have some hope that another few days could make a big difference. Follicles grow 1-3mm per day in a normal person so hopefully I can keep up with that trend. I believe the follicle needs to be around 20mm to be ready. Anything is possible, and I'm anxious to see what the end of the week brings. It's crazy to think about what's going on inside my body and how at the same time I feel so out of control of the situation. Fingers crossed this all plays out in our favor. More updates later this week!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quiet weekend

I love the weekends because not only do I get to spend time with my husband but also because that usually means no doctors appointments. My specialist is open everyday except Christmas and Thanksgiving so going on a weekend might happen soon but at least for now it hasn't and that is refreshing.

Jeremy and I had a date night last night and went out to dinner. We had a gift card that our realtor sent us for referring him to another client. I always love referral bonuses especially nice ones like $50 restaurant gift cards. I haven't been wanting to spend much money lately because of our trip as well as the medical bills. Since we got back I've been trying not to go shopping or spend money on things that aren't a necessity just because I know how many other bills we have on top of our regular mortgage payment and household bills. Anyway, this week was a challenging one between the miscommunications with the doctors, the biopsy, and some other tough decisions. I was so glad to have a night out to get dressed nice and look cute for my hubby. I remind myself that I need to cherish these spontaneous date nights because once we do have kids it's not so easy to get out together.

Dinner was nice and the food was yummy. I had a GA peach salad which was great. Seasonal food is a favorite of mine. I got to hear about Jeremy's day and the life of a network engineer. Honestly, I wish I understood everything he does on a daily basis. I more so listen in amazement that he knows so much about computers and networks. I tried to remind myself to not talk about the infertility and all the tough choices that potentially lie ahead. It's easy to get consumed with it all since it's such an on going process, especially now that we are going to a specialist. The best thing we can both do is to try and distract ourselves as much as possible and fill our time with fun activities and just enjoy being together. It's easy for me to focus on it too much but I'm constantly looking for new ways to keep busy.

Today I started something new! I went to a yoga class for the first time. I'd wanting to go since we joined LA fitness back in March but it's just hadn't happened. After such a stressful week, I was determined to find a new way to relax while also working out a bit too. Jeremy and I headed to the gym together, and he went off and did his own thing while I went to the class. I will say that I enjoyed it, and I think I will do it again. They say you have to focus so much on the poses and the movement that it takes you away from other things, and I did find that to be true sometimes.

I also started chatting with the lady next to me and jokingly said I wonder if yoga can help cure my infertility. She went on to tell me that her son and daughter in law just went through infertility and just had an IVF baby in December after 3 years of trying with no success. Stories like that are reassuring but also sometimes make me wonder how long we should try and wait before we move to our last resort. I still keep hoping it will happen without IVF but honestly we aren't that far away from that suggestion. It scares me to think about financially, physically, and emotionally. Okay enough about that! I'm still hopeful something will work before that point but I do wonder how long we give it until we take that plunge. 

Today I think I'm going to take advantage of this rainy day and start to sort through my teaching resources. There are boxes of stuff piled in front of our cars in the garage. It's a huge project and overwhelms me but it needs to be done! I know there are things to recycle and things I probably won't use again that I should donate. It's an overwhelming project but I guess I should get started! 

Tonight I'm babysitting for the parent's anniversary date night. I'm glad they are able to get out and celebrate their 6 year anniversary which is actually today. Jeremy will have a quiet night, and I will as well after the kids go to bed. Tomorrow we are going to the Braves game with another couple. I am hoping the thunderstorms hold off! I'm going to enjoy my time without a doctors appointment because they begin again on Monday morning. On Monday we will find out if the increased dose worked or if we need a new plan. I honestly have no idea what to expect. I don't even know what the next course of action is if I don't respond. I guess we will see shortly. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New day, new attitude

The past few days have been pretty tough but today I really tried to pick myself back up and try not to be so disappointed. Last night, I decided to cut off Facebook for a little while for a few reasons. First of all, I spend too much time on there looking at pictures or reading articles that people post. Second of all, I feel like Facebook makes me think that I'm connected with all these people but in reality, I really don't know what's going on in all these people's lives. I also have been feeling like it gives a false perception of everyone's life. So much good stuff and rarely any struggles and difficulties. Lastly, as you can imagine and I've mentioned before, seeing the pregnancy announcements, ultrasound pictures, newborn pictures, and just general baby pictures on my newsfeed are all reminders of my struggle. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely thrilled for all those people who are starting a family or expanding their family. I now understand how special a gift a child is and how lucky all those people are who have a baby. The joy they are all experiencing has to be so incredible. It's just hard not to be jealous when you see people accidentally getting pregnant when you've been doing everything in your control to get there too. So with a combination of those three things, I decided to take a break.

Today was my first day without it. I didn't delete my profile or even deactivate my account because I still want everything easily accessible when I go back. I just had Jeremy change my password so that I wasn't tempted to go on. While there are things I already miss about it, I think it will be a positive thing. I've always been good about calling and texting my friends but it will just be nice to talk to the people I care about instead of simply liking their pictures or statuses. I'm not sure how long I'll take a break but for now I want to focus on all the things I've been wanting to do and putting off lately.

Today was my yearly dermatologist appointment. This is actually one of my most dreaded doctors appointments and to be honest, I dislike it more than even the ob/gyn and here is why. I first started going for skin checks after my mom was diagnosised with melanoma a few years back. I always knew I was supposed to go but it was one of those things that I had kind of put off because I didn't think I would ever get skin cancer especially not in my twenties. Well, my Mom's experience was enough to scare me into going. She was very fortunate it was caught early before it spread, and they were able to remove all the skin cancer safely. Simply that history in my family makes me more at risk, and I now understood why it was so important for me to get checked.

Three years ago I went for the first time. I was nervous and didn't know what to expect but I did know I have spent a lot of time in the sun at the beach growing up. I spent tons of time in the sun in Australia when I studied abroad too. I will admit, I wasn't always the best at using sunscreen in my younger years. Being tan and having that summer glow to my skin was always something I loved. I never went to tanning beds but I did spend time in the sun. Many of us at a young age don't realize how bad the sun is for you when your skin isn't protected.

Well at my first appointment, I got a biopsy. It came back moderately abnormal so I had to go back and get a smaller piece out to make sure it was gone. Problem solved. A year later I went back, and they found a different spot. This one was on my back and kind of hidden. The doctors were very concerned that it could be melanoma and did a biopsy immediately. A week later I get the call that it was severely abnormal but not quite melanoma. For those of you unfamiliar, a biopsy can come back mild, moderate, or severely abnormal or it can be melanoma. Mild or moderate like the previous year didn't stress me out. Severely abnormal not so good. Off for surgery I went. I was thinking it would be a small incision. Not so much. Here was the damage. A 2-3 inch scar. That alone was enough to wear sunscreen anytime I was outside for an extended period of time. Just like my Mom got lucky to catch it, I was fortunate to catch this before it potentially turned to cancer.
Today I was nervous, and hoping for a clear report. I really didn't need any more medical issues to worry about. Unfortunately, I didn't. I got another biopsy on a spot that I've been watching the past few years. Now the waiting begins for the next 7-10 days. I am hoping that it comes back as nothing. Anything more severe could set us back even more in our pregnancy quest so I'm obviously hoping I don't need another surgery. At the end of the day, if surgery means saving your life, you've got to do it. For those of you who don't get skin checks, I would encourage you to do so. It's not a pleasant experience at all but it is better to be safe than sorry. Fingers crossed for an all clear phone call. This spot is front and center on my chest and not an ideal location for a giant scar. But anyway, I'm going to think positive and try not to worry until I hear. This week definitely hasn't gotten any easier, and I'm really looking forward to the weekend and fresh start to a new week. Things have got to start turning around soon right!?



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Miscommunications

Well I don't even know where to begin! What has happened over the last 48 hours has just added a whole new twist to this already complicated and emotional process. It's honestly really hard to even put it all into words but I will do my best. So let me recap my last super optimistic blog post with an updated more accurate and realistic version.

Basically on Monday I was warned the medicine wasn't working by one doctor. Then on Tuesday I was told by a different doctor that everything looked awesome. I was responding and things were moving forward. As I'm sure you all can tell reading my blog, I get very excited when I get good news. At 8am everything was great. 

Well at 5pm that's a completely different story. A nurse calls me, who is covering for my nurse, and abruptly tells me actually the doctor/ultrasound was wrong and your bloodwork shows that you didn't respond to the medicine. Apparently what they thought was a follicle was actually a cyst. Not sure how you mix the two up but it happened. So I took that news and was upset but at the same time I knew we could increase the dose this round and continue moving forward. I was just hurt by the fact that they told me one thing in the morning and a different story in the afternoon. If something isn't 100% certain, I would prefer her telling me it's questionable let's wait for the bloodwork to come back. That way my expectations are kept realistic, and I don't have the opportunity to get my hopes up. Anyway, that was that complication and misinterpretation. 

Next she tells me you need to go get that chicken pox vaccine and to stop trying for three months. I was in complete shock. Where did this come from? I was there in the morning and no one said anything about by getting the vaccine that it meant I couldn't try anymore. I also felt like this was out of the blue because over a year ago I had bloodwork to check immunizations at my regular ob gyn, and he gave me the go ahead that I was healthy and good to. Clearly this chicken pox immunity wasn't even tested by him. Gosh so now what to do? I was up half the night crying and thinking about it and researching what my risk of actually getting chicken pox during pregnancy is. Was this actually a big concern, or was this more just them covering themselves and protecting themselves from a potential lawsuit? 

As I thought about it more, it just seemed so crazy that this was even being added into my mix of complications. Apparently I now fall into the 5% of the adult population that isn't immune to chicken pox. Not only was the medicine not working like they had told me but now I get tossed through this hoop. Making decisions has never been a strength of mine. I'm always very indecisive when it comes to picking a restaurant for dinner let alone making decisions about my health. I turned to my husband and my family for more advice. Where do we go from here? My stomach was in knots thinking about it. 

After careful thought and research, we came to the conclusion that I'm not going to get the vaccine and move forward with my treatment. The vaccine presents risks as well. I've got risks any way I look at it. I'm looking at it as if I had gotten pregnant last year that this wouldn't have even been a topic of discussion or something I had ever known about. I also asked my pharmacist, and she said the chances of me actually getting chicken pox during pregnancy was so slim and not to worry. I just wish someone had told me to do this a year ago when I wasn't fully invested in this process. Last year when we first made the decision to start this journey, three months wouldn't have been a big deal. In the infertility world, three months is a very long time. But I can't sit here and dwell on the past and question my treatment up until this point. I have to keep my focus on moving forward. Life is full of risks and chances. 

Today I will start an increased dose of the medicine that failed me last week. Will it work? I have no idea but the doctor said they wouldn't be trying if they didn't think there was a chance. This week, I'm going to do my best to keep my expectations low in order to prevent disappointment. You would think I would have learned this by now but my optimism and positivity get the best of me every time. The biggest lesson I learned over the past two days is that I can't let myself get my hopes up too quickly. In a matter of hours anything can change drastically. And just when you think things are on the right track something can change. I learn more and more everyday that I need to appreciate the things I do have instead of focusing on what I don't have. I'm hoping over the next few days that I feel a little bit more relaxed and that I will start to build my trust with the doctors again. 

Mid cycle check

This morning I went for a check to see how I am responding to all the new medicines. Yesterday, the doctor told me I might not be responding and that I should keep my appointment today since yesterdays appointment was for other purposes. I went this morning hoping I was progressing.

At the ultrasound, she found a follicle that was apparently 25mm which is pretty sizeable and indicates I am responding. Hearing the doctor say, it's working, makes me so happy. I decided to do the bloodwork to check my hormone levels again and make sure everything looked good. I almost opted out of the bloodwork because both my arms are already bruised from bloodwork last week and yesterday but I went with it anyway. The more clear things can be the better in my opinion. I also have a prescription for a trigger shot just in case I don't ovulate on my own. We will see what the next few days bring but either way, I'm thrilled that it seems my body is responding to what I like to call my new and improved Clomid. I'm feeling more optimistic again as we have made a lot of progress this week. Passing my uterus test yesterday and now responding to the medicine is another great sign. She also said my thyroid level is where is needs to be now and that everything looked as if I was progressing normally.

Then they told me something I wasn't expecting. They mentioned that I am not immune to chicken poxes. Random I know. Who knew they were even testing for something like that but I think that just goes to show how thorough they are. I never had chicken poxes but my brothers had it when I was 2 weeks old. Doctors had told me before that I was immune to them from being exposed at such a young age but apparently not. That reminded me of how hard it must have been having a two week old baby and two boys at home with chicken pox. Doesn't sound like a fun situation! Anyway, I thought I had had the vaccine as well but I guess I need it again. It's good they are catching things like this because it's very bad to get chicken poxes while pregnant. I've scheduled to get the vaccine tomorrow but I want to confirm it's okay to do at this point and that I shouldn't wait for any reason. 

Today I really feel like we have made steps in the right direction. I know I've said that before but it seems like things are coming together more and more. We have ruled out more potential physical issues, and it seems that we have narrowed down my issue to being hormone based. I still feel like I can't get my hopes up again as the chance each month are still small even for a healthy person with no issues but at the same time at least we have a chance. Im so grateful for that. I know we have made some changes this time around and that gives me renewed hope. Time will tell, and at least I feel like I'm in good hands. That is a reassuring feeling! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

SIS test

This afternoon I went for my saline infusion sonohistogram which is basically a fancy name for an ultrasound to look at my uterus. To summarize it, it was similar to the HSG tube test except instead of dye they use saltwater. I guess the saltwater gives them a clearer picture once you get to the ultrasound part. It wasn't the most pleasant but not too bad. Jeremy came to the appointment and then I found out he wasn't allowed back. :( At least he had bloodwork too so it wasn't a waste of a trip there but I was really looking forward to him being there during the procedure. I just assumed he could come to anything since I always see lots of husbands in the waiting room but lesson learned. I'll ask from now on!

I like the instant results and this was another instant one. Love that! The doctor said he didn't see an polyps or abnormalities. Yes!! I love hearing normal over here and normal over there. I think normal might be one of my favorite words! They had a lot of ultrasound pictures printed out that my main doctor will review, and I'll chat with her more about the results tomorrow but it sounds like all is well and that I won't need surgery! One more thing checked off the list!

While I had having the ultrasound he also check in to see how I was responding to the new medicine. He made it sound like things weren't progressing that much since last week. I asked if I should push my appointment back a few days and give my body some more time but he said we should keep tomorrows appointment because they can always add on more mid cycle. I was unaware that was an option.

Because I and PCOS patients are at high risk for multiples they started me on the lower dose to be on the safe side. I think I might have needed the higher one though. I'm so glad my appointment is at 8:15am tomorrow. I like just waking up and getting there first thing so I don't have to think about it all day. At least I have a bit of a warning of what to expect.

I also need to ask about one of my other medications because I'm definitely not handling it will. I spend my entire Sunday throwing up. You would think I was pregnant! We had waited to increase it until after my trip for the upset stomach reason. I had been nauseous other times but this was the first time I actually got sick. It's always hard to tell whether it's a bug, the medication, or something else. One way or the other, I'm getting good practice for morning sickness! More tomorrow after my appointment!

That's the tube of saline. It was pretty neat once they got the catheter and the ultrasound wand in, I could see them releasing the saltwater in my uterus on the ultrasound monitor. Okay that's enough detail but I thought it was cool to watch but I'm interested in medical stuff! It amazes me everytime I go how much doctors and technology are capable of. I am so thankful to have ways to help me!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Birthday party and weekend updates

Typically I try not to work nights and weekends since that is my time with Jeremy but since we had just spent two weeks together, I decided to take some jobs this weekend. First of all I have a hard time saying no to people, and second of all I have a hard time turning down money if I'm available. Also, these little jobs are my main source of income once my paycheck runs out in about another month so I'm trying to build some good relationships now. That being said, I babysat until late Friday night and then woke up Saturday and helped at a birthday party all day. When I say this Mom went all out for a first birthday party, I mean it! You'll see what I mean in a minute. She has some wonderful ideas if you know anyone planning a boys birthday party!

The family lives across the street from us, and she texted me and asked if I could come over a little earlier to help with the gift bags. Of course I could and this is totally up my alley. I guess it's the teacher in me but I love cute, creative projects and things that have to do with kids. When I went over there, she brought down boxes and boxes of dinosaur themed prizes. Anything from coloring books, personalized necklaces, puzzles, etc. You name it, she had found it. She said she got lots of the stuff from Dollar Tree and Etsy as well as ideas from Pinterest. I can't wait to do things like this for my own kids. 
I started sorting the stuff into piles before I put it into the bags so that the Mom could see everything laid out and that way they would all be the same. I put together about 25 bags and tied them with ribbons and a thank you tag. She was really impressed by how efficiently I got this done, and I explained that it's definitely the teacher in me that is good as sorting, organizing, and putting things together for a big group of kids. I just loved all the stuff she found too and knew the kids would love it as well. Such a great idea and theme for a little boy!
From the looks of these goodie bags plus  the party being at Fernbank, I knew it was going to be quite the party. I should also add the baby is an IVF baby so she completely understands what I am going through and it explains why this party is so special to her. After we finished the bags, we filled my car and an SUV full of decorations and everything she needed for the party. Two full cars later, we unloaded and started setting up.  We had to work quickly since another party had just been cleaned up. After less than an hour and a bunch of helping hands later, this room was ready for the guests! It looked amazing. My favorite part was watching people who were at the museum peek in and gaze with amazement at the party. Literally every kid that walked by was asking their parents to go! I'm sure I would have done the same thing. Here's the finished product!
Don't you just love the dinosaur tails we attached to the chairs??
Centerpieces on the table
The dessert table! Love the colors and decorations!
I'm not a huge cupcake fan but these cupcakes were delicious! Super soft and not dry at all and so adorable.
Gummy dinosaurs
Chocolate Dino rocks
The favors that I helped out together! Maybe I should go into event planning...
Live animals! My favorite part was when the lady asked, "what does our body do when it's hot?" She was clearly looking for the answer of sweating. This little girl raises her hand excitedly and shouts out, "you pee pee!" Gotta love the thoughts of kids. Reminded me so much of the classroom and how I will miss the adorable and thoughtful ideas that come from children. Everyone got a good laugh out of their answers.
And to top off the fun, a dinosaur photo booth! The kids had so much fun with this! They also had pin the tail on the Dino but we ran out of time for that by the time they did the pizza, cupcakes, animal show, and photo booth. Such a fun party it was! At the end, we sang, and Austin dug into his personal cake! Too cute!
Some of my neighbors were there, and in between the set up and breakdown, I got to enjoy myself too. I ate with one of my neighbors and their one year old. During our conversation I asked at one point if they wanted more kids. With their oldest one being barely one year old, I assumed he would answer yeah eventually or we will probably try once he is two or something. Well not the answer I got. "She's actually pregnant," he replied. "I almost didn't believe her when she told me because we weren't even trying." I almost wanted to tear up and cry right then and there in middle of the party. It's my own fault for asking the question but definitely wasn't expecting that answer. All I could say was congratulations and smile when inside all I kept thinking was man it must be nice to have a baby already and not even have to try or think about it and boom you're pregnant again. In my dreams. Here I am spending thousands of dollars trying for my first while others around me are getting their second, third, or fourth left and right. I also got a little sad when I looked around the room and saw all these happy families and their adorable kids. I know it will happen, and I really hope that will be us soon but it's just another reminder of our struggles when it seems like everyone around us has kids. Being at a birthday party like this really gets me excited for kids, and I just have to keep on hoping.

Tomorrow I go for my saline infusion sonohistogram. It's very similar to the HSG (the tube test I had last month) where they put salt water in my uterus and that gives them a better picture of what's going on. I'm obviously hoping I pass the test. The results should be pretty instant but there might be some things I might have to wait to find out. I'm not sure but they should be able to tell me on the spot if I need anything removed or if anything looks wrong. I always get anxious the day before and the day of the test. It's not the procedure that makes me nervous but more so finding out the results.

I feel like my heartbeats out of my chest while I'm lying there on the table staring at the ceiling while I wait for the doctor and nurses to come up. I'm so excited that Jeremy will be joining me for this test so I will have him to keep me company and for support during the procedure. I always find it hard to take everything in that the doctors say so between the two of us hopefully we can understand it all. At least if I do get not so good news, he will be there with me. After all, we are going through this together and having him by my side really is the most comforting thing possible. After my test, he will have bloodwork as well. I will have my bloodwork on Tuesday I believe. I'm also waiting for result of my genetic tests that I had last week. Maybe I'll find that out tomorrow and hopefully I won't be a carrier of any genetic diseases. Tomorrow we continue to take steps forward and hopefully not backwards. More updates after the appointment!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Still adjusting

It's been five days since we got back from our Asia adventures and you would think Jeremy and I would be back in on track but we are definitely still jet lagged. We've both been getting super tired in the early evening and going to bed early and then waking up before sunrise. It's getting a little better but it takes time adjusting to that many time zones. This week has been really busy catching up from being away the past two weeks. Babysitting, sub training, doctors appts, cleaning, laundry, errands, and catching up with friends.

This week I also increased the medicine that they had warned me could hurt my stomach. I had stayed on the lower dose my whole trip and just increased it when we got home. I handled the smaller dose pretty well but doubling it definitely hasn't agreed with me. Plus we added on another one this week. All three of my current meds say that they can cause dizziness and upset stomach. That has proved to be pretty accurate. I have to keep reminding myself to stand up slowly because when I don't I tend to get lightheaded and dizzy when I get up quickly. I've even trying to stay extra hydrated and that doesn't seem to make a big difference either. I guess these side effects are something I can talk to my doctor about next week but I have a feeling there isn't much that could be done and that the benefits outweigh the side effects. Maybe just certain foods might help. I've been debating going to the nutritionist at my specialist because she has PCOS as well, and I think it could be helpful in guiding me toward certain foods that might be better for me than others. I've done a lot of reading about fertility and PCOS foods to eat but it would probably be helpful coming from someone who can see my bloodwork and cater it to my body specifically. It's also really important that I keep my weigh up and that can be hard to do when you are losing your appetite. More questions to ask next week!

On a positive note, I've been really happy with how our insurance company has been covering things a lot more than I expected. I think it's partly that we are still in the diagnostic phase which our plan covers but even despite not yet meeting our family deductible they have been helping out much more than I ever expected. Always panic a little when I get sent home with a big receipt not knowing what insurance will help or won't help with but fortunately it's been going pretty well so far. Of course it's all still expensive but it makes me happy when I at least feel like the insurance company is contributing well. I also notice prescriptions go towards the deductible which my state health benefit teacher plan didn't. That's helpful as well. We also have an HSA that is helping pay the bills with tax free money which makes me feel better about things as well. I really am trying to find the positives through this all!

Last night, I read an article online that Savannah Gutherie from NBC wrote about people struggling with infertility. One of her colleagues just went through IVF and is struggling, and I appreciate when even pregnant people like Savannah acknowledge all the people that would love to be in her shoes. She also talks about the emotional aspect and all the daily reminders of our struggle. Reading articles like that make me feel a little better when I am reminded that my feelings are valid and that many other women experience the same difficulties and feelings. I know it will all be worth it though! 

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